Health Officer: Canucks jumped H1N1 vaccine line

Published Nov. 20, 2009 2:11 a.m. EST

British Columbia's provincial health officer says Vancouver Canucks players jumped the line when they received swine flu vaccinations this week. "If they got the vaccine and they weren't in any of the risk groups as individuals then they were queue-jumping," Dr. Perry Kendall said in an interview Thursday. "I don't know why they queue-jumped because they only had to wait a few days." The H1N1 vaccine will be made available to all British Columbians on Friday. Swine flu immunizations in the province have been restricted to people over 6 months with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, people living in isolated communities, health care workers, first responders, and healthy children and adolescents between 6 months and 18 years old. Last week, Health Canada gave clinics and doctors across the country permission to start using some doses of H1N1 vaccine on the general public. But the final decision on when to do that lies with individual provinces and territories. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault denied after practice Thursday any wrongdoing by his team. "It was always our intention that once the vaccine was made available to the public that our players would have the opportunity to take it if they wanted it," he said. "My understanding is it's been made available to the public. That's all I know." Canucks general manager Mike Gillis declined to be interviewed. A team spokesman wouldn't say how many players were vaccinated or if the immunizations were made available to the rest of the team's staff. The CalgaryFlames were heavily criticized last month when players and their families received the H1N1 vaccine while thousands of Albertans waited in lines that stretched for hours. Two Alberta Health Services employees were eventually fired for helping set up the private clinic.